Theo Rigby

About Location

United States (Arizona) and Mexican border


There were 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in March 2010, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, according to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center. The number of unauthorized immigrants in the workforce, 8 million, also did not differ from 2009. Both the population and workforce estimates are below their 2007 peaks, apparently driven by a decline in the number of Mexicans, the largest group of unauthorized immigrants. Among states, the proportion of unauthorized workers varies widely: They constitute roughly 10% or more of the labor force in Arizona, California and Nevada, but less than 2.5% in most Midwest and Plains states. They are especially likely to hold low-skilled jobs and their share of some of those occupations has grown. In 2008, 17% of construction workers were undocumented, an increase from 10% in 2003. One in four farmworkers is an unauthorized immigrant. Unauthorized immigrants living in the United States are more geographically dispersed than in the past and are more likely than either U.S. born residents or legal immigrants to live in a household with a spouse and children. In addition, a growing share of the children of unauthorized immigrant parents—73%—were born in this country and are U.S. citizens.


More Americans believe that Hispanics are the targets of a lot of discrimination in American society than say the same about any other major racial or ethnic group, according to a Pew Research Center survey taken prior to the recent enactment of an immigration enforcement law by the state of Arizona. These findings from the Pew Research Center's November 2009 survey are included in a new Pew Hispanic Center fact sheet that covers a range of issues, attitudes and trends related to the new Arizona measure and its potential impact on the Latino community and on the enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.


The national political backlash against illegal immigration has created new divisions among Latinos and heightened their concerns about discrimination against members of their ethnic group-including those who were born in the United States or who immigrated legally. A small majority says unauthorized immigrants should pay a fine but not be deported, while small minority says they should be deported and a larger minority says they should not be punished. Hispanics are also divided about the impact of illegal immigration on Hispanics already living in the U.S. Some 29% say the impact has been positive, down from 50% who said the same in 2007. Despite rising concerns about discrimination against Latinos, the Pew survey finds no increase in the share who say they or a family member has been a victim of ethnic bias.